The growing up process with this young Razorback team hits February when the Hogs face LSU Saturday. With the Tigers unbeaten in conference play, there’s a lot to consider with Arkansas 20 games into the season showing a 12-8 overall record, 3-4 in SEC Play.
I say give them some more credit. The effort is there. Missouri committed 24 turnovers at Arkansas…Texas Tech 21 in Lubbock…Georgia 16 at Bud Walton Arena. The Bulldogs only hit at a 29 percent clip from the field. However, keep in mind Georgia missed 14 free throws (part of the reason for the cautious optimism regarding Arkansas).
Moving forward, the Hogs hold teams to 72 points per game, 10th-best in the SEC. Can they keep LSU in check? The Tigers score about 83 points on average, a stat ranked third in the league. Rebounding? Well you’d hope Arkansas is spending a lot of time in practice getting back to fundamentals in this area (Dogs crushed Arkansas on the glass 56-32). The Razorbacks’ next three opponents, LSU, Vandy and South Carolina all rebound the ball better than Arkansas.
Other topics? Sharing the ball. Respect the way the Razorbacks played together in this facet Tuesday night. They had 14 assists against the Dogs compared to only six at Texas Tech and there were spots where it reminded me of a team that was more in sync back in non-conference games.
Can this team make noise in the SEC? The jury is still out. Way too often, it’s a half-court mess. Get Daniel Gafford, Mason Jones, Isaiah Joe and Jalen Harris clicking the same night? Then you feel a lot better. But then again…there’s the ‘what if’ again. What if Reggie Chaney and Adrio Bailey are off? And, what if bad free throw shooting, slow starts, and rebounding are major issues in February? What if foul trouble remains? And what if several bad defensive rotations return? For the Hogs, there is still very little room for error.
Each guy on the bench needs to stay within himself. Thing is, with this team, all of those components need to be there, and if they are…maybe, just maybe they’ll make a case for a good seed in the SEC Tournament.